After years of speaking, training and writing about effective customer service in a variety of industries, Micah Solomon realized that he consistently used hotels and other hospitality businesses as examples of customer service to train other industries on what proper service was. Interested in expanding on the successes of these businesses as a means to discover the truth behind what they were doing well, he realized it was time to turn his attention and focus on a project that involved solely hospitality, since it would be the first book of its sort. The Heart of Hospitality is a perfect companion to those who run hospitality businesses or to educators within the hospitality field, who are looking to understand, teach or expand their ideas on how to deliver the best customer service. Written in a similar format as a textbook, Solomon combines theories on how to engage customers and select staff as well as practices from different industry experts, embedded with stories and examples of his own travels that are later summarized at the end of the chapter by an end of chapter review.
While writing The Heart of Hospitality, Solomon interviewed a variety of hoteliers, restauranteurs and chefs from a wide array of service levels. From small Inns such as The Inn at Little Washington, to limited service hotels such as Hampton Inn and Hyatt House, to classic luxury hotels such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton, as well as new lifestyle brands such as Edition and Andaz. When selecting restauranteurs and chefs, he focused on speaking to those he admired and who had well-known restaurant empires or personalities, such as Danny Meyer, Tom Colicchio (celebrity chef and judge of Top Chef and restauranteur) to Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin.
The book’s nine chapters are organized by the different aspects that make the hospitality industry iconic in customer service such as, “People are the Heart of Hospitality (Chapter 3),” “The Culture of Yes (Chapter 4),” and “How the Digital Revolution Has Changed Your Customers (Chapter 9).” Each chapter has sub-sections that include anecdotes from his travels embedded with the theory behind why that story was memorable. Also, gray boxes within sections introduce small snippets of the interviews with some of the influential people he spoke to along the way, such as Doug Carr of FRHI, who spoke about the Generations in the Workplace.
Covering the most impactful subjects of a winning customer service experience, The Heart of Hospitality delves into recovering a bad service experience where Solomon introduces his own BUBL method, as well as making the customer feel as the most important person or what Solomon calls “The Last Customer on Earth.” A section on differentiated hospitality and tailoring the experience within the same business to each individual guest ties together these concepts with an example at Le Bernardin. The book also covers the more modern aspects of hospitality, such as the arrival of Airbnb into the lodging segment of the industry, technology, or as Solomon refers to it, “The Digital Revolution,” and how they have changed guests. In addition, there is a small snippet covering re-engineering of behaviors within a brand servicing their current clients.
However, some things don’t need to be re-invented and are still as impactful now as they have ever been within the business and Chapter 3 focuses on some of those. Covering the staff selection process and the importance of a proper orientation and training as well as the creation of a company culture that both the staff and guests can identify with and making guests feel cared for, Solomon introduces success stories that remind the reader on continuing to focus on what works well.
Wonderful things happen daily in the hospitality industry.
Sharing the best practices can help serve as examples on how to make guests happy. The Heart of Hospitality is a collection of theories and best practices compiled to share in the effort to continue to improve the industry as a whole. Every time the client or guest receives one of these experiences, it will also be embedded in them, thus creating a loyal client. One of Mr. Solomon’s most impactful experiences, which he shared both in the book as well as in the interview, was when Tonya, a house attendant within the housekeeping department at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, left her duties of delivering linens and towels to the room attendants in her section to take care of his son. After witnessing his son struggling to ride a bicycle, she asked them to wait for her and brought back a bicycle with training wheels, which allowed the boy to enjoy his experience at the hotel a lot more. Tonya anticipated their needs and made them the most important people at the hotel. She artfully used a compilation of many of the theories outlined in the book to create loyal guests and an unforgettable hospitality experience.
Micah Solomon is an expert in customer service and is hired to train and speak about these concepts to businesses. He wrote the book in hopes to reach a wider audience and make the hospitality industry even greater.